DEL MAR, CA – Little Red Feather Racing and Marsha Naify’s Fashion Business didn’t like the slow pace on the backstretch and made a powerful move from mid-pack to take command in the far turn, then drew off like a rocket in the stretch to take Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap Presented by The Japan Racing Association.
The Del Mar Handicap is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Fashion Business receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Turf at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking without incident from the far outside post under the meet’s leading rider Flavien Prat, Fashion Business quickly took back and saved ground heading into the far turn for the first time while Ashleyluvssugar led early. That lead was short-lived, however, because Kenjisstorm moved up to take over just as the field hit the opening 1/4-mile in :24.64, then continued setting the pace through splits of :48.91 and 1:13.60. Seizing the opportunity to catch the field napping, Prat gave Fashion Business the cue and briskly moved his steed four-wide past every horse ahead of him, gaining the front just as he made it through the opening mile in 1:38.10. Hitting the top of the stretch still full of run, Fashion Business blew away faster than a speeding bullet while kept to a drive. Wrapped up in the final jumps, the Phil D’Amato trainee crossed with a tremendous advantage in a final time of 2:13.84 for the 1 3/8-mile turf showcase.
“On the backside I could tell they were going slow, and I went a little wide around there,” said Prat, who also took this event last year aboard Hunt. “I know it takes a little time to go around. I just kept digging in and he just finished. I had a pretty clean trip.”
Longshot Ya Gotta Wanna ran six-wide in the lane to get up for second over a blanket photo finish for third between four horses. Multiplier was deemed to be the most forwardly-placed of that bunch, with Colonist, Flamboyant, and Ashleyluvssugar all within inches behind. The 5/2 favorite Itsinthepost couldn’t sustain his three-wide bid for the lead in the far turn and faded late to finish seventh ahead of Cashman, while Unapologetic and a spent Kenjisstorm completed the order of finish. Ritzy A. P. was scratched.
Fashion Business’ win was his first graded stakes score and improved his overall record to 12-3-3-1. The British-bred 4-year-old gelded son of Frankel increased his lifetime bankroll to $283,885 in a strong performance that negated a disappointing eighth last out in the Grade 2 Eddie Read Stakes here last month.
“I thought he was going to come running,” D’Amato said. “I think Flavien just sensed they were going so slow, it was a now-or-never-type move. His race at Belmont (the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes) was actually way better than it looked. He was in a blanket finish, and then the horse that finished behind him came back and won the (Grade 1) Arlington Million. So it was a very productive race. The last race – the mile and 1/8 – we used as a prep for this race and it just worked out perfect.”
Fashion Business returned $10.20 to win, $5.80 to place, and $4.20 to show. Ya Gotta Wanna brought back $35 to place and $13.40 to show, while Multiplier paid $4.60 to show.